Posts Tagged ‘firewood’

Learning about firewood – Stacking Firewood

admin | July 26th, 2010 | No Comments »

There are many ways to store firewood. These range from simple piles to free-standing stacks, to specialized structures. Usually the goal of storing wood is to keep water away from it and to continue the drying process.

Stacks: The simplest stack is where logs are placed next to and on top of each other, forming a line the width of the logs. The height of the stack can vary, generally depending upon how the ends are constructed. Without constructing ends, the length of the log and length help determine the height of a free-standing stack.

woodstackThere is debate as whether wood will dry quicker when covered. There is a trade off between the surface of the wood getting wet and allowing as much wind and sun to access the stack. This cover can be a large piece of plywood or an oiled canvas cloth, although cheap plastic sheeting may also be used. Wood will not dry when completely covered. Ideally pallets or scrap wood should be used to raise the wood from the ground, reducing rot and increasing air flow.

There are many ways to create the ends of a stack. In some areas, creating a crib end by alternating pairs of logs helps stabilize the end. A stake or pole placed in the ground is another way to end the pile. A series of stacked logs at the end, each with a cord tied to it and the free end of the cord wrapped to log in the middle of the pile, is another way.

Under a roof: There are no concerns about the wood being subjected to rain, snow or run-off. The methods for stacking depend on the structure and layout desired. Whether split, or in ’rounds’ (flush-cut and unsplit segments of logs), the wood should be stacked lengthwise, which is the most stable and practical method. Again though, if the wood needs further seasoning there should be adequate air flow through the stack.

Storing outdoors: Firewood should be stacked with the bark facing upwards. This allows the water to drain off, and standing frost, ice, or snow to be kept from the wood.

Round stacks can be made many ways. Some are piles of wood with a stacked circular wall around them. Others like the American Holz Hausen are more complicated.

A Holz hausen, or “wood house”, is a circular method of stacking wood which results in accelerated drying and a small footprint. A traditional holz hausen has a 10-foot diameter, stands 10 feet high, and holds about 6 cords of wood. The walls are made of pieces arranged radially, and tilted slightly inward for stability. The inside pieces are stacked on end to form a chimney for air flow. The top pieces are tilted slightly outward to shed rain and are placed bark side up. If constructed correctly, this method of stacking can produce seasoned firewood in as little as three months.

The above text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Originally written at

Heating With Wood – Vintage-Style Energy

admin | July 23rd, 2010 | No Comments »

Old Is New Again

The newer things become, they more they return to the past. This is true of heating with wood. From the dawn of time, heating with wood was a natural emanation of the need to stay warm in cold temperatures as well as a means with which to cook. The return to heating with wood is no surprise. Until the early 1900’s most homes were heated with wood stoves and wood-burning fireplaces. Most meals were cooked on wood stoves.

Where Did All That Wood Come From?

With careful conservation methods, wood used for heating and cooking was never in short supply. It was grown in heavily wooded areas or on designated tree farms. Care was taken to insure wood stoves were properly venting fly ash so that fires were rare. Chimneys and flues received regular meticulous cleaning by expert chimney sweeps.

In big cities, fireplaces and large open hearths provided enough heat from wood even in three-story Victorian homes. Wood for these homes and businesses was brought in from lumber yards. The lumbering process was so exacting that there was little in the way of waste. Twigs, branches and short sawings were used as fat wood to help a wood fire start. Sawdust was used in any number of ways: to patch holes in wood as well as to line walkways and chicken coops. Whatever remained was returned to the earth as mulch. Wood was carefully selected for heating purposes.

Vintage-Style Energy

Though heating with wood may be a vintage-style energy source, it is effective as a means of energy. It does require knowledge of the types of wood that can be safely and cleanly burned. Hardwoods like oak, maple, beech and sycamore as well as fruit-woods like apple, crab apple and cherry are some of the types of woods that make clean burning fuel for heating with wood. Among others, nut-woods like walnut, pecan, chestnut and almond also give off a lovely fragrance while burning.

Choose hardwoods, fruit-woods or nut-woods that are aged. One tip is to look for orchards that are in the process of removing dead woods. In most cases, the wood will be sold for firewood. Unaged, green woods retain sap and therefore need to be dried before they can be used for heating with wood. Sappy woods create dangerous sparks and as a result burn faster.

Wood Stoves Today

Today’s wood stoves make heating with wood more efficient than those of the past. Venting systems for these wood stoves has been greatly upgraded to produce thorough efficient heating with wood. Aged woods for wood stoves are sold in large lumber and hardware stores as well as by individual sellers of wood. In most cases, these woods are already split and bundled. Wood is sold in stacks and cords for heating with woods in wood stoves. Cords of wood need to be shielded from too much dampness or dry rot will occur fairly quickly.

Be sure to stack your wood so that it is protected from ground moisture. Also, it’s a good idea to use a moisture-proof tarp to cover your wood pile or, use log holders and hoops.

Written by Craig Daniels and used under the Creative Commons License.

Learning about firewood – The Basics

admin | July 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

firewoodFirewood is any wood like material that is gathered and used for fuel. Generally, firewood is not highly processed and is in some sort of recognizable log or branch form.

Firewood is a renewable resource. However, demand for this fuel can outpace its ability to regenerate on local and regional level. For example in some places in the world and through history, the demand has led to desertification. Good forestry practices and improvements in devices that use firewood can improve the local wood supplies. As a Biofuel, some consider firewood to be a form of solar energy and to be relatively carbon neutral.

Firewood terms
Since firewood has been used by humans for a long time, there are many terms and concepts to describe it.

North America
Firewood can either be seasoned (dry) or unseasoned (green). It can be classed as hardwood or softwood. In most of the United States, the standard measure of firewood is a cord or 128 cubic feet, however, firewood can also be sold by weight. The BTU value can have an impact upon the price.

Harvesting firewood
Harvesting or collecting firewood varies by the region and culture. Some places have specific areas for firewood collection. Other places may integrate the collection of firewood in the cycle of preparing a plot of land to grow food as part of a field rotation process. Collection can be a group, family or an individual activity. The tools and methods for harvesting firewood are diverse.

North America
Some firewood is harvested in “woodlots” managed for that purpose, but in heavily wooded areas it is more usually harvested as a byproduct of natural forests. Deadfall that has not started to rot is preferred, since it is already partly seasoned. Standing dead timber is considered better still, as it is both seasoned and has less rot. Harvesting this form of timber reduces the speed and intensity of bushfires. Harvesting timber for firewood is normally carried out by hand with chainsaws. Thus, longer pieces – requiring less manual labour, and less chainsaw fuel – are less expensive and only limited by the size of their firebox. Prices also vary considerably with the distance from wood lots, and quality of the wood. Buying and burning firewood that was cut only a short distance from its final destination prevents the accidental spread of invasive tree-killing insects and diseases. Generally speaking, a distance of 50 miles (83 km) from cut site to final burning site is considered the longest distance that firewood should be moved.

Normally wood is cut in the winter when trees have less sap so that it will season more quickly. Most firewood also requires splitting, which also allows for faster seasoning by exposing more surface area. Today most splitting is done with a hydraulic splitting machine, but it can also be split with a splitting maul.

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Stacking firewood properly

admin | April 1st, 2010 | No Comments »

Last time we talked identifying seasoned wood but once you get your wood, how do you store it? Stacking your wood in an area and leaving it exposed to constant rain or snow cover will actually allow the wood to reabsorb water. This could make the wood too wet to burn and possibly rot faster than you can burn.

When you are stacking your wood, try to keep it off the ground. Many people use pallets or old pine planks. Ideally a constructing a shed with open sides that promotes air circulation. Even more simple is to find a sunny spot to pile your wood and to cover it on rainy or snowy days. The key is to remove the cover during sunny days allowing the sun to dry the wood and for air to circulate throughout the pile.

Outside of weather elements, keep in mind that termites could also be an issue for you. Monitoring your firewood regularly is an important part of maintaining your fuel supply.

Take a look at some other fire wood stacking techniques:


Identifying seasoned hardwood

admin | March 24th, 2010 | No Comments »

Firewood-pile_BrændestabelAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seasoned wood is wood that has been split and dried for at least six months and has less than 20% moisture by weight.

What this means is that if you are burning seasoned wood in your fireplace or wood stove, it burns hot and clean. Burning seasoned hardwood will have the least amount of creosote buildup in your flue reducing the chance of a chimney between cleanings.

It’s difficult to regulate individuals or businesses claiming to sell seasoned wood so here are some tips to help you purchase seasoned wood:

  1. Seasoned wood looks  dark, or gray when compared to green wood  – but if you split a piece of seasoned wood – it’s WHITE on the inside. It’s brittle, or gnarly. It has cracks running through each piece, and a lot of little cracks on the inner rings.
  2. The bark is not hugging the wood tightly, it may be easy to pull off or in some pieces not attached at all.
  3. Ask when the wood was split. Many times sellers will use the date that the wood was cut but cordwood does not begin to properly season until after it has been split.
  4. Inspect how the seller stores their cordwood. If it is completely under a tarp, it will not season properly. Also, if the area is extremely wet, the wood towards the bottom will actually absorb more water reducing its quality and accelerating decomposition.

Keep in mind that wood 4-5 years is rotting, so aim for wood that is 2-3 years seasoned. If buying cordwood, the rule of thumb is to buy this year’s wood for next year. This way you can ensure your wood is stored properly and has had the appropriate amount of time to become seasoned.